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Designing a roadmap for success after divorce

Divorce is one of life’s most stressful events, and people going through one often feel devastated, Toronto family lawyer and life coach Leanne Townsend tells Lawyer Monthly.

“During this challenging time, clients must make decisions that affect their children, where they will live and their financial well-being for years to come — essentially everything important in their life,” she says.

Townsend says she approaches clients from a holistic perspective — looking at their entire welfare, not just their legal situation.

She says this means that not only does she provide them with topnotch legal advice, "but I ensure that they have the other support they need to get through this challenging time as best as possible,” Townsend tells the online legal news outlet. “My background in coaching allows me to help clients set goals, move through personal or emotional roadblocks and make more effective decisions during this turbulent time."

Coaching can help clients in areas such as returning to the dating scene or the workforce after many years at home, the article notes. 

Given the emotional and practical upheaval of divorce, many clients arrive feeling hopeless, but Townsend says she encourages them to heal and look toward the future and discourages them from getting caught up in unhealthy relationship dynamics.

“Coaching helps clients move forward, remove unhealthy roadblocks and design a roadmap to where they would like to be,” she says. “Family law clients all too often can get stuck in the past and coaching really helps them to break out of the rut they may be in and move forward with positive changes that they designed themselves with the assistance of a coach.”

In some cases, Townsend says her clients have endured abusive relationships, something she has a great deal of experience with as a prosecutor for more than 15 years and the domestic violence lead in her office for much of that time. When it comes to advising them, she says there are three key factors.

“Abuse is not your fault. It is never okay to abuse someone, and you did nothing to deserve this, she says. “Safety is important. Research shows that the most dangerous and volatile time for a victim of domestic abuse is when there is a recent separation. Take your safety seriously and tap into the resources out there for abused partners.”

Townsend also advises such clients not to minimize the effect that partner abuse has on their children.

“You may think that they don’t know what is going on if they are not present when it occurs.  Children are much smarter and much more aware of what is going on with their parents than most parents realize. Abuse affects them emotionally and children often grow into adults who model the abuser/victim behaviour,” she says.

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